Sunday, March 09, 2014

Dolphins end Heartland hoodoo

Three-time Nigerian champions, Dolphins, avoided defeat at Heartland for the first time since 1999 in a Glo Premier League game after playing out a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The last time Dolphins got a point at Heartland was in January 1999 when they were still known as Eagle Cement and Heartland were then Iwuanyanwu Nationale. That game ended 2-2.

On Sunday, Heartland went into the game with bookmakers tipping them to win since Dolphins had failed to score against them in the same corresponding fixture in the past 11 years.

Heartland head coach, Kelechi Emeteole, was forced to field a squad without injured captain, Chinedu Efugh while the duo of Hope Fiberesima and Tijani Adamu were their debuts by Dolphins manager, Stanley Eguma, after joining the Port Harcourt club in the off-season.

It was Heartland that opened score in the 35th minute through Kelechi Ekeh's deflected free kick.

The goal was Ekeh's first in the top flight in his debut season.

But Ekeh's goal lasted just eight minutes as Ifeanyi Egwim put Dolphins back on level terms after dribbling his way into space from the left channel before shooting the ball past Emmanuel Philip in goal for the hosts.

Egwim's goal was the first Dolphins would score at Heartland in the Glo Premier League era.

The second half was an Austin Brown's show as he made big saves from the goal-bound efforts of Ekeh and Emeka Ogbugh to ensure Dolphins left Owerri with their first point in 15 years.

In Katsina-Ala, Crown FC made their return to the top flight for the first time since the 2010/11 season. But Lobi Stars kept it late to seal the full points.

It was towering centre-back, Stephen Eze, who sealed the points for Lobi Stars in added time to see off Crown FC.

Akwa United also secured the full points against Gombe United and it was their captain, Nnamso Edo who rolled in the ball from 12 yards on 64 minutes to keep Scorpions waiting for their first point on the road since April 2012 when they played a goalless draw at Kano Pillars.

The heroics of Nigeria international goalkeeper, Chigozie Agbim between the sticks could not help the Scorpions avoid defeat to Akwa United at the Uyo Township Stadium.

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